MUSE MONDAY - Frances Hardinge's Fly on the Wall

This week the unicorn is delighted to welcome author Frances Hardinge, who would like to introduce you to a certain fly...
Frances Hardinge
Who (or what) is your muse?
Frances: My muse is a strange and unglamorous creature - the common housefly. It isn't pretty, and most of the time it's despised, overlooked or swatted on sight. But if you look at it closely, its black armour and cellophane wings have an iridescent sheen. It can walk upside down, take off backwards, and perform aerial acrobatics that would make the Red Baron hang up his flying goggles. It's a survivor and an opportunist because it has to be. It has no shame. If it had a mouth, it would be grinning. If it had a tongue, it would be sarcastic.
The fly is my sense of mischief, my curiosity (who doesn't want to be a fly on the wall?) and my love of the underdog. The fly stands for all the characters who aren't pretty or rich or gifted, but who manage to survive through being quick-witted, fleet-footed and ready to take a risk. The fly also stands for those who are unnoticed, scorned or underestimated.
Last of all, flies are scavengers and so are writers. Just as flies go everywhere and gobble a little of everything, so authors are always on the lookout for something they can pounce on and use for a story. Like flies, we sometimes find what we're looking for in odd and unglamorous places.

When did you first meet?
Frances: I remember being fascinated by flies' speed and agility from the age of about seven, and first wrote a story about a fly when I was about thirteen.
Does your muse appear in any of your books and/or artwork?
Frances: Yes! In my first novel Fly by Night and the sequel Twilight Robbery, the main character Mosca is named after a housefly. She was born at a time sacred to the fly-like god Palpitattle, He who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butter Churns. As a result everyone sees her as a 'fly-child' and treats her with suspicion. Mosca sometimes has imaginary conversations with Palpitattle, in which he has a snickering, sarcastic rasp of a voice. Like a fly, Mosca is a quick-thinking survivor, and not above breaking a few rules.
If you won the lottery and had complete artistic freedom, what would you write/create?
Frances: Actually, I would probably write very much the sort of books I've been writing already! I have been very lucky, since my publishers have allowed me a lot of freedom in choosing what to write. (They encouraged me even when I came to them with book ideas that were really, really weird.)
Before you go, does your muse have a message for the Unicorn?

Frances: Don't let your author take things too seriously, least of all herself. 
That's what I keep telling her!
"Don't take yourself too seriously..."
More about Frances
Frances Hardinge was brought up in a sequence of small, sinister English villages, and spent a number of formative years living in a Gothic-looking, mouse-infested hilltop house in Kent. She studied English Language and Literature at Oxford, fell in love with the city's crazed archaic beauty, and lived there for many years.

Whilst working full time as a technical author for a software company she started writing her first children's novel, Fly by Night, and was with difficulty persuaded by a good friend to submit the manuscript to Macmillan. Fly by Night went on to win the Branford Boase Award, and was also shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Award. Her subsequent books, Verdigris Deep, Gullstruck Island, Twilight Robbery and A Face Like Glass (see below) are also aimed at children and young adults.

Frances is seldom seen without her hat and is addicted to volcanoes! Visit her website for more details
In the labyrinthine underground city of Caverna, craftsmen toil to make strange and wonderful luxuries - forgetfulness wines, exploding cheeses and mind-control perfumes. A ruler who never sleeps governs a sinister Court full of back-stabbing and betrayal. Into this world falls Neverfell, a young girl whose face shows her every thought. She is the only person who cannot lie in a city of perfect liars, and somehow she must work out who to trust.

You can buy A Face Like Glass online from:
and all good bookstores.